a case study for some (just a little!) estate planning

Nothing particularly tragic or soap opera like needs to happen to you to need some estate planning, consider the following happy life:

Well educated engineer has close siblings and is close to his parents, though he never marries nor has children. The engineer retires happily after a long stable career to a life of golf and other hobbies. Blessed with good genes, he celebrates his mother’s 100th birthday with his multiple surviving siblings and other extended family. Soon after, he passes away literally doing what he loves on the gold course with his siblings.

Near idyllic, right? There are problems, however. The engineer died without a will. Some of his retirement benefits had a beneficiary designation, some didn’t. So the house, all his personal property, cars, and investments not given a beneficiary designation need some form of probate to pass to the family.

But this is a man who loved his mother and siblings, so what is the problem? The problem is surviving mother, first and foremost. Under the law of intestate succession (dying without a will) in Texas, Mom will get 1/2 of the probate estate. Aside from her not needing the house, or car, or golf clubs, these assets are now available to the State to reimburse her long term care from Medicare or Medicaid.

A simple will designating the siblings or others as the beneficiaries would keep much more, if not all, of this engineer’s estate in the family.


2 thoughts on “a case study for some (just a little!) estate planning”

  1. Eric,

    Sorry! The submit button’s a little sensitive.

    I like the real-life examples. Make me wonder. How do verbal preferences hold up in Texas? What if everyone had agreed that, say, the engineer wanted 1/2 to his spouse, the rest split evenly among sibs? With no dispute. Would the family have had to go to court anyway?

    your obedient,

    1. no sir. Texas Probate can be simple, and a completely handwritten will would suffice, but verbal agreements are not sufficient. Also, in this case study the decedent is single. A spouse would receive her half of the community assets and the rest would be split largely as described above.

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